Top 10 Scenes from the “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy

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Okay, I admit, I am a bit of a nerd. I don’t do pocket protectors, tape on glasses or plaid pants, so I am a cool nerd, but a nerd none the less. One of the ways that this nerdiness manifests itself is in my unabashed admiration of the LOTR trilogy.  If you don’t see your favorite scene, I’m sorry…no, I’m not, it’s my list.

(Editor’s note: Author is probably a geek, not a nerd.)

10. Shelob’s Stalks and Stings Frodo (ROTK)

Couldn’t decide which one was more frightening, the sight (and thought) of a car sized spider appearing out of nowhere to chase you through his apartment sized web or a being silently stalked by said spider and then being impaled by his javelin of a stinger? You be the judge.

9. Legolas Acrobatic Horse Mount

Legolas firing on the Wargriders to his acrobatic mount on the horse (TTT) – I just got back from seeing “Cirque Du Soleil” and couldn’t help but think that Legs would put all of those guys to shame! First watching him pick of Orcs across a plain with his arrows behind those menacing trumpets is thrilling. And then watching him grab the horses bridle and flip on the horses back is just plain cool! More about this scene here.

8. Pippin Sings to Lord Denathor (ROTK)

The reason that this is here is the impact of contrast. Think “The Godfather”, “A Bronx Tale” and … “FaceOff”. Two movies that used a pleasant melody and sweet song/scene with a violent one. This makes the violence seem even more brutal. Pippin’s surprisingly sweet and plaintive song of sorrow is the perfect anti-compliment to the Faramir led battle.

7. Arwen Pursued by the Nazgul (FOTR)

This scene was the moment for me when she stopped being “Steven’s daughter” and became “Liv.” By the way, has there been a scarier group of undead guys in movie history?

6. Aragorn Returns (TTT)

Every action hero needs a signature scene and this is his. How cool did Viggo look when he pushed open those doors and silently announced his re-arrival? That one scene shot his street-cred through the stratosphere!

5. Eowyn Discovered on the Battlefield (ROTK)

This scene was an emotional wonder. The despair of a brother who has just discovered his sister seemingly dead on the battlefield (that look of horror on Eomer’s face is brilliant and hard to look away from), the sincere care of Aragorn to Eowyn (By the way, I want that ring!), the concern of her on looking brother and the burgeoning love between Faramir and Eowyn all held together by a haunting song by an ethereal singer. I have been looking for that song for forever and can’t find it! Can somebody help me out

4. Aragorn Honors the Hobbits (ROTK)

When the four bow to the newly crowned king, Aragorn stops them and stated “My friends, you bow to no one!” and leads the entire kingdom to bow to the four diminutive heroes. I defy you to watch this scene and not get choked up just a little.

3. Gollum/Smeagol’s Schizophrenic Conversation (TTT)

If a computer generated image could win an Oscar, Gollum (or Sméagol, if he suits you!) would have run away with it. With this scene, Peter King upped the ante as to what you can do in a movie with a computer (plus, the way it was filmed made you actually think it was two separate people. Sort of a Split Screen 2.0.), legitimized Andy Serkis’ inclusion in the trilogy and gave us another facet to an already fascinating character.

2. Gandalf Explains the “Afterlife” to Pippin (ROTK)

Watching what the great Ian McKellen did with the brilliant poetic lines of Tolkien, it is no wonder that Billy Boyd (Pippin) was transfixed and hanging on his every word. To look at Ian’s eyes, you saw that he was Gandalf, he had been to that “far green sunrise” and he could not wait to get back…*sigh!*…

1. Gandalf Fights the Balrog – Frodo’s Tearful Look (FOTR)

This scene was amazing on many different levels, but the most significant is what it did to the characters and how it foreshadowed the story lines. It polarized and solidified characters. It showed Gandalf making the ultimate sacrifice (can anyone say “Jesus figure”?), forced Aragorn into leadership (speaking of which, that look that he gives as he watched Gandalf fall in the crevasse is fantastic! You can literally see his switch go on. It is a crime that Viggo’s mantle is bare.), forced Legolas to deal with death and grief and shocked the Hobbits into the realization that outside of their idyllic world, there existed death, pain, sorrow and suffering and it could hit them personally. There was a great contrast near the end of that scene; Sam’s response to Aragorn versus Frodo’s. Sam was pulled to his feet by Aragorn and stood firm despite his grief, Frodo fled, and in the process gave us one of the most poignant moments in movie history. This contrast would be played out brilliantly in the rest of the trilogy.

Written by Jonathan Hopkins

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41 Comments

  1. Excellent list, although my favorite scene in the trilogy will always be the last march of the Ents. Great imagery and that haunting tune gets me every time.

    Coog

  2. my favorite scene in the movie had to be when the fellowship was in the cave where the dwarves where massacred and they were waiting for the goblins to come…

    they had a kodak moment when they were all standing (Gimli was on the gravestone) weapons at hand when Boromir slowly twirls his sword.. *ch-chik

  3. when they were in the cave where the dwarves were massacred.. the fellowship was standing waiting for the goblins to come.. (Gimli was on the gravestone) then Boromir slowly twirls his sword.

    picture perfect

  4. OMG I have to rewatch the trilogy now. I love all those scenes, but I have an addition: Pippin and Merry at the end of TTT, finding the pipe leaf. AND whenever there was a battle (especially Helm's Deep), I loved the imagery.

  5. #2, when Gandalf says those lines, it is definitely one of my favorite scenes in the entire trilogy. But I would have added a couple scenes, such as the final scene in Return of the King, in which the boat sails off into the horizon. Also, the entire final battle scene. When Aragorn said, "For Frodo", the combinations of music and slow motion sent chills down my spine. How about we just say the entire series, for Lord of the Rings is one of the best.

  6. very nice. but i would have included the battle of the pellenor fields, helms deep, and the crack of doom

  7. 1. Galadriel narrating the introduction to FOTR.

    â??There were some, who resisted.â??

    2. The Witch King drawing his flaming brand in Minas Tirith. And a cyclone forming above it.

    â??Do you not know death when you see it old man. This is my hour.â??

    3. The lighting of the beacons.

    â??Amon Dinâ??.

    4. The reflection of the ring on Frodoâ??s face.

    â??Wait. There are markings. Itâ??s some form of Elvish.â??

    5. Elrond at home.

    â??The blood of Numenor is all but spent. Itâ??s pride and dignity forgotten. I was there Gandalf. I was there three thousand years ago. I was there the day the strength of men failed.â??

    6. Saruman consulting history books.

    â??The Dwarves delved too greedily and too deep. You know what they awoke in the darkness of Khazad-Dum. Shadow. And flame.

    7. Gandalf consulting history books.

    'It has come to me, the One Ring. It shall be an heirloom of my kingdom. All those who follow in my bloodline shall be bound to its fate for I will risk no hurt to the Ring. It is precious to me, though I buy it with great pain.'"

    8. Gollum in the dead marshes.

    â??Wraiths. Wraiths on wingsâ?¦.They are calling for it. They are calling for the precious.â??

    9. Shadowfax.

    â??That is one of the Mearas, unless my eyes are cheated by some spell.â??

    10. Eomer.

    â??Look for your friends. But do not trust to hope. It has forsaken these lands.â??

  8. If you haven't read the books, you aren't a nerd. And if you haven't read the Silmarillion, you still aren't a true nerd. Nice list though.

    • Nate Huffman on

      The truest of nerds have also read the Histories of Middle-Earth volumes 1-12. Truthfully, the most boring stuff I’ve ever read. But you must read them to get upgraded from the Gold Edition to the Platinum Edition nerd card.

  9. dude. all of you are missing by far the best scene. "i can't carry it for you, but i can carry you!" come on! anyone?

    know what i mean?

    • Definitely agree with you Bob.

      But that scene with Frodo having a tear down his eye at the end of FOTR and hearing Gandalf's voice talk about deciding what to do with the time that is given to you, that should have made it in. And, Faramir's, "Do you wish that our places had been exchanged? That I had died and Boromir had lived?"

      Oh, and Legolas's, "What about side-by-side with a friend?"

      Got a few more but don't have time…

      • Those are all good. I also loved it in the very end of the Return of the King, when you couldn’t quite tell if Frodo was going to jump into the lava after the Ring, or reach up to Sam’s hand. Suspenseful, yess, surprising hobbitses they are, yess precioussss.

  10. I'm surprised The Ride of the Rohirrim wasn't anywhere on this list. That by all means deserved to be in at least the top five. Although there were a few *minor* deviations from the text of the book (having Theoden lead the "Death! Death! Death!" chorus, and not Eomer), I think of all the scenes in the trilogy this was the closest to the spirit of Tolkien's writing.

    I've heard so many people complaining about the textual / literal differences between book and film, and the occasional departures in spirit as well (let's be honest, there's a lot in there that Tolkien himself would probably have disapproved of). But this one scene more than made up for it in my mind. Nothing less, imo, than THE greatest and most powerful scene in movie history ever. (Take that, "I am your father" Star Wars fans.) "Ride, ride to ruin, and the world's ending! Forth Eorlingas!" When I first watched that bit in the cinema, I was so choked up with tears I couldn't actually see what was going on. Bona fide classic!

  11. Those are all awesome, but my favorite scene is when Legoles takes down that elephant…and when Gimili said 'That still only counts as one!' Ha, ha…

  12. There are SO many special moments, BUT, I think the scenes with Haldir, being a "minor character," are so overlooked! When Haldir arrives with the Elven army, to "stand with men" …an almost certain death, I nearly cried.

    I think the particular scene where Haldir is killed, is the turning point of the entire movie. You know at that point that perhaps the battle will be won, but the war is lost. It's the end of innocence and gentility. And indeed it is. In the end, the elves still leave, and Galdalf and friends, and tho Sam is happy in the the Shire with his familly, nothing will ever be the same…. With the ethereal death scene of Haldir, we know the magic has died too….

  13. Love this list. I agree with everything but the order ("You bow to no one" is always my number one). I would rather say that your number one moment, with Gandalf, was more similar to Odin's death on the World Tree Yggdrasil rather than Jesus. Odin sacrificed himself in order to gain his eighteen runes or spells, just as Gandalf knew he would die if he ever entered the caves, but he came back more powerful and able to help in Tolkien's own Ragnarok. As a matter of fact, Gandalf's name is similar to the name of a dwarf in Norse mythology, "Gandalfr"

  14. Jonathan Hopkins on

    Love the debates that this list has engendered. Patient J, nice comparison with Norse mythology. As far as literature is concerned, you are probably right. But Tolkien was a Christian and many of those values and principles are all over the series. Christ knowingly sacrificed Himself for the good and salvation of all, just like Gandalf.

    Kizzy, I agree with the Haldir references. I think that his brief presence and death were symbolic of the ethereal, the pure and the idyllic being a fleeting presence in Middle Earth. And you are right in that you could see its effect on Frodo in ROTK.

    For all of the folks who like the Ride of the Rohirrim, I agree. As powerful as it was, it seemed reminiscent of other battle speeches in other movies. Braveheart comes immediately to mind. I actually think that when Aragorn looks at him mates in ROTK and utters "For Frodo" before riding on the Dark Gate is much more dramatic.

    Keep 'em coming 🙂

    LOVE the lighting of the beacons. As a matter of fact, it JUST missed the cut for me.

    • Other points are middle earths entire creation. Melkor being jealous of eru’s power to create life, his decent to the satanic morgoth, saurumon sympolizing the anitchrist, someone trusted and in a very high seat of power that goes around preaching how Satan is the only way, albeit under an alias, the list could go on and on. But! My favorite scene has always been the extended scene in which aragorn and friends “negotiate” with the mouth of sauron. Gandalf is never once seen as a vulnerable man, kind when he wants to be, but never vulnerable. Ian did a fantastic job of definitively making gandalf more vulnerable than a teenage girl after a break up when he was told frodo was dead. And to top it off, aragorn figuratively shows the entire world of middle earth that he is afraid of no one by cutting off the mouth of sauron’s head. This to me is the “crowning” moment in which aragorn really feels like he is a king. That or the king of the dead scene. Can anyone tell me of that was Jeffrey rush as the king of the dead? Looks uncannily like him if he was rotting away.

  15. Late to the party, but here are my 2cents:

    One of my favourite scenes is the "I am his gardener." scene, when Frodo and Sam are interrogated by Faramir. It speaks so much about the hero Sam, the ordinary guy in the fellowship, is, without even knowing it.

    Frodo: We are hobbits of the Shire. Frodo Baggins is my name, and this is Samwise Gamgee.

    Faramir: Your bodyguard?

    Sam: His gardener.

  16. What about the Grey Havens scene!!! that had to be the saddest moment in the entire trilogy, and one of the best!

  17. While reading this list and then halfway through the comments I started laughing.

    The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy can't be caught in 10 scenes, I doubt a list of 100 would suffice.

    My personal favorite is the one where Faramir is returning from Osgiliath and he and his men are being harrassed by Nazgul. Gandalf rides out and a light shines from his staff chasing away the Nazgul. The moment he uses his staff the music is so beautiful and intense I still get chills.

    Ow and real nerds would have read the Children of Hurin and Unfinished Tales and The History of Middle-earth aswell.

  18. I definetly agree to the double doors, but I think it extends to after, when you see how Gimli and Legolas greet him, showing how close the Fellowship has become. Pippin's song-my favorite scene. 🙂 Ons scene I love is in the extended version of ROTK with Faramir and Eowyn at the House of Healing. They've never met but they share the same sorrow in knowing there friends are basically Riding to certain death at the Black Gates and they aren't with them. Great Job on the list!

  19. The whole trilogy is visually stunning so very difficult to pick out just 10 scenes in this regard, above mentioned are all top scenes however for me Boromir's last words to Aragorn in The Fellowship Of The Ring definitely deserves a mention from heart wrenching despair to spirit lifting loyalty this scene covers all the bases.

    Kizzy absolutely spot on the Elves walking into Helms Deep, didn't expect that. Awesome!

  20. You left out the best scene of all time! "I can't carry it, but I can carry you!"

    Also, Sam's speech at the end of Two Towers where he talks about the great stories really hits home to me.

  21. That list is hogwash, 1 isn’t even in the original movie version , how can it be considered #5 ?

    10-Aragorn “For Frodo” before the last charge-TROTK
    9- Legolas Acrobatic Horse Mount VS Wolves of Eisengard – TTT
    8-“Hope is rekindled” , The beacons of Amon Din-TROTK
    7-Frodo reaches his hand to get the drowning Sam at end “I made a promise Mr. Frodo” – TFOTR
    6-“My business is with Eisengard tonight , with rock and stone ” Last March of the Ents -TTT
    5-Eowyn VS Witch King “I am No Man “-TROTK
    4-“I can’t carry it for you but I can carry you ” Sam lifts Frodo on his shoulders- TFOTR
    3-“Fell deeds awake,Now for Wrath,Now for Ruin,and the Red Dawn”Theodin final battlescene-TTT
    2- Aragorn honors the Hobbits “My friends! You bow to no one.” -TFOTR
    1-“Arise! Arise! Riders of Théoden! Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword-day! A red day, ere the sun rises!Ride now, ride now, ride! Ride for ruin and the world’s ending, DEATH DEATH” Theodin and the charge of the Rohrim on the fields.

    I could mention a few more that would be better then ones you guys mentioned, but seems many beat me to it.

    There is no way you can’t get a chill down your spine or cry in any of the above scenes I mentioned.
    Drop your list and use mine, I would think most people would concur.

  22. 15. Rotk right after barradur falls one tear slides down gandalfs face
    14. Rotk gimli “that still only counts as one!”
    13. Rotk Sam on mt doom “I can’t carry it for u but I can carry u”
    12. Rotk aragorns speech at black gate “I see in your eyes the same fear . . .”
    11. Fotr ending: Sam says “i made a promise, a promise, mr frodo. Don’t u leave him samwise gamgee, and I don’t mean to, I don’t mean to.”
    10. Rotk pippins song while faramir charges
    9. Fotr bilbo and gandalf smoking, gandalf blows ship thru bilbos smoke ring
    8. Ttt rohirrm charge
    7. Rotk rohirrm charge
    6. Rotk lighting the beacons
    5. Fotr gandalf vs balrog “u shall not pass”
    4. Rotk aragorn: “for frodo” then charges at black gate
    3. Rotk aragorn at coronation: “you bow to no one”
    2. Sams speech end of TT: “stories that really mattered”
    1. End of fotr: frodo hears gandalf “all u have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you”

  23. I agree with a lot of the scenes in both the list and the comments, but I would like to add one.

    The scene when Gandalf forces Saruman out of king Theoden’s body, and in the background, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are punching people that try to stop him in the face.

  24. here are my top 3
    3. sam, osgiliath, “the stories that really mattered”
    2. theoden, ride of rohirrim, “arise, arise riders of theoden”
    1. aragorn, black gate, “i see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.”

  25. the scene where legolas and gimli are at black gates is also pretty cool
    “i never thought i’d die fighting side by side with an elf” “what about side by side with a freind?” “aye…i could do that”

  26. Very good picks! 😀 A few suggestions on my part:

    1. When Boromir comforts Frodo in Lothlorien in the FOTR EE. Doubly poignant considering that, at least book-wise, Boromir was probably the most opposed to Frodo bearing the Ring. Granted, he did have his reasons — not necessarily correct, but at least sympathetic reasons: he wanted to protect his beloved city against Mordor. But even so, it’s just one of these moments when Frodo’s tired, no doubt worn down by the Ring, grieving for Gandalf, feeling some guilt over Gandalf’s death (especially considering that he must have thought that if he hadn’t decided to take the Mines of Moria, this wouldn’t have happened. That and being unable to pull Gandalf up), also feeling guilty about possibly being a burden to the Fellowship considering that Haldir wouldn’t let them enter Lothlorien because of the Ring (and yes, Haldir had his reasons, but I’ll admit, first time I saw the movie, I wanted to slap him. He made up for it later, though. :), and feeling as if his friends (including Sam!) were turning against him (although, really, it is the influence of the Ring). And Boromir really being the only one who comes to comfort him. And as someone else put it, he’s not just buttering up Frodo so he can take the Ring from him when he’s not looking — he genuinely cares about Frodo. I think this line really made up for a lot of Boromir’s actions earlier in the film (more specifically the Council of Elrond, because I’m not going to lie, he really got on my nerves when he started having a go at Aragorn):

    BOROMIR: Gandalf’s death was not in vain. Nor would he have you give up hope. You carry a heavy burden, Frodo — don’t carry the weight of the dead.

    2. Faramir’s flashback in the TTT Extended Edition to Minas Tirith and the day Boromir left. Not only does it flesh out Faramir’s motivations a little more (I know a few people weren’t really happy with the TTT EE either, accusing it of making Faramir “kind of pathetic”, but honestly? I wouldn’t say it’s a cureall to the complaints about Faramir in the theatrical cut, but I think at the very least, you start to feel sorry for him a little. Him and Boromir both), introduce the character of Denethor (which really intrigued me, and while I was disappointed with him in ROTK, I still think John Noble did a great job. :), and provide more context to Boromir’s actions, it also provides some very adorable scenes between Faramir and Boromir. Especially Faramir’s hug after Boromir finishes his victory speech. :3

    3. Saruman’s speech to his army in TTT. It’s just so well-orchestrated, well-scored…and Wormtongue’s tear adds a nice touch to the proceedings, as he realizes what he’s done in terms of allying himself with Saruman.

    4. Aragorn and Arwen’s meeting on the bridge in FOTR. It’s just such a beautiful scene. 🙂

    5. And earlier, Arwen comforting Aragorn and telling him that he won’t suffer the fate of Isildur.

    6. In the ROTK EE, Faramir consoling Eowyn. And I agree that Eowyn being found near-dead on the battlefield was heartrending to watch. And earlier, when Theoden dies.

    7. Totally agreed on Faramir’s ride. And earlier, when Gandalf tries to stop Faramir. If only because of this line:

    GANDALF: Your father loves you, Faramir. He will remember it in the end.

    And I think in a way, Denethor did.

    8. Faramir’s talk with Pippin in the ROTK EE. Again, people complained about it “degrading” Faramir, but really? I thought it was a pretty cute scene. 🙂 And it really makes Faramir’s ride all the more heartbreaking, really.

    9. The Crack of Doom. Just all of it. From Sam carrying Frodo to Frodo claiming the Ring to the Gollum fight to…just about everything, really. Seriously!

    10. Arwen and Aragorn’s reunion at the coronation. #Is a hopeless romantic. XD

    And agreed with…pretty much everyone regarding their favorite moments. Seriously, the LOTR movies are just a favorite moment all of its own, if you get what I mean. 🙂

  27. FotR: The moment when Boromir gets hit by the first arrow, and he remain fighting until the third one.. Dramatic music and slowmotion. I almost cried, when he admitted to Aragorn, that he tried to take the ring and had dissapointed Frodo.

  28. 10) Faramir: “….then it is forfeit….. Release them!”
    9) Aragorn: “….. Ride out with me…. Ride out and meet them!”
    8) Gandalf: “…we cannot get out. A shadow moves in the dark. We cannot get out…..they are coming.”
    7) Gamling: “we cannot defeat the armies of mordor.”
    Theoden: “no. We cannot. But we will meet them in battle nonetheless.”
    6) Merry: “the fires of isengard will spread. And the hills of buck land will burn. There won’t be a shire pippin.”
    5) Aragorn: “the day may come, when the courage of men fails….but is not this day….. This day we fight! Men of the west!!”
    4) Sam: “…. There’s some good in this world mr frodo, and it’s worth fighting for!”
    3) Theoden: ….. Eer the sun rises!!!!!”
    2) Gandalf: “… And then you see it….. White beaches ……and a red sunrise”
    1) the beginning of the first movie until the end of the last one.

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